Homemade Gift Series #10: Homemade Cookies and Gift Bundle

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In the coming week, we’re going to be giving a few early small seasonal gifts to people, so with that in mind, we put the final finishing touches on our first gift basket, utilizing some of the items we already made.

One component of many of our baskets this year is going to be cookies. Sarah is a spectacular cookie maker and she delightfully packages them up for people as well. This year, she decided to use a peanut butter-based cookie recipe for her cookie bundles.

Ingredients

In the picture above, Sarah is making cookies using tofu as an egg substitute – these actually turn out really well and were well liked by someone who thinks tofu is disgusting, so it works. Here’s what you need.

6 eggs (or 1 1/2 cups whipped tofu)
2 sticks margarine or butter
3 cups brown sugar
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peanut butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
12 oz. chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet, as per your preference)
3/4 cup chopped nuts (a little more or a little less, as per your preference)
1 1/2 cups M&Ms (a little more or a little less, as per your preference)
9 cups rolled oats

Making cookies is easy.

Dough

Mix together the butter/margarine and the sugar. Then, add the eggs/tofu, vanilla, and peanut butter and mix until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients, then mix well. Shape into small balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F (175 C) for 8 to 10 minutes. They’re done when they hold together but are still really chewy.

Cookies

Naturally, we wanted to package these fairly nicely. Sarah’s simple solution was to take a large square of clear Saran Wrap, place three cookies in a stack in the middle, draw the Saran Wrap up around the cookies, twist the top, and tie it with a ribbon.

Cookie bundle

Quite nice! Of course, you might want to just make big batches of these cookies for any family events and dinners you have coming up, either at Thanksgiving or at Christmas.

We wanted to give some of these cookie bundles away as part of larger gift baskets that incorporate other homemade gifts. Over the last few months, we’ve been searching a wide variety of supply stores looking for small gift baskets, eventually finding a large box of them for about $0.40 a basket.

Here’s the basket we prepared.

Basket

This basket contains a cookie bundle, a jar of the wine jelly, and an ornament hand-painted by our daughter (who likes blue and purple). It’s nestled on a piece of blank newspaper from our end roll.

This is a small example of the gift baskets we’ll be giving out this year. Some will be larger and contain other items that we’ve made, and I’ll show you some of these later.

This may be the last entry in the series. We may be making one more item – if we do, we’ll show it to you in two weeks. There will also be a final post showing some of the packaging that we’re using for these gifts.

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18 thoughts on “Homemade Gift Series #10: Homemade Cookies and Gift Bundle

  1. I really like reading your home-made gift ideas. But I have to admit, it makes me very happy that I’m not doing any gift exchanges this year :)
    When I consider all of these ideas combined, that’s a lot of work and a lot of planning.

    Cheers to you and your wife for actually doing it!

  2. I wanted to thank you for this awesome series! I’ve really enjoyed reading it.

    How many cookies does this recipe make?

  3. I absolutely LOVE that these are eggless, using a tofu substitute! (Much of my family is vegetarian, including some who don’t eat eggs, or would prefer not to). Have you or your wife tried substituting this tofu for eggs in any other cookie recipes? Also, can you give a quick description of what “whipped tofu” is? In the picture it looks like soft tofu, so can I safely assume you just whip it up? Thanks!

  4. I would love to receive one of these baskets! What a lovely, thoughtful, unique gift!
    Trent- I have another suggestion for you for a wonderful easy Christmas gift….homemade sugar scrub.
    I make sure I save all the rose leaves from my fragrant roses and dry them. When they are completely dry, I save them (by color) in gallon size plastic bags. COMPLETELY DRY.
    Around Christmas gift giving time, I take 4 cups of while sugar, 1 cup of kosher salt, 1 gallon bag of dried rose leaves of one color and put them into a food processor. I blend them on high and add canola oil through the feed slot until it’s bound together but not runny.
    I buy $1 tins at the dollar store and pack it into the tins to give as gifts. If you don’t have fragrant roses, you can add a drop- ONE DROP- of essential rose oil to each batch- but I have not had to do so yet! All of my friends love the wonderful bath scrub for knees, elbows, feet and hands! It’s great on skin in the winter and leaves a very light sheen in those dry months! The only caution is make sure to clean out the tub or shower with soap after using the scrub- the oil can make the tub or show a bit slippery.

  5. I have truly enjoyed this series. When I make cookies, or banana bread, I use canola oil instead of butter, whole wheat flour (always), an Splenda instead of sugar. This way even my diet conscious and diabetic friends will use and appreciate! Banana bread is an awesome holiday gift- and so easy! You can get overripe bananas for next to nothing, and use small loaf pans. They freeze well, so you can make them ahead of time too!
    Next year I will be making that lavender soap- and sending a big basket of that and home baked goodies home for my daughter to take back to college!

  6. I say you have a contest and send one of these baskets out to one of your readers! I love all the homemade gift ideas.

  7. Great Post Trent. After the holidays I buy packs of leftovoer Christmas themed napkins and some different sized Christmas paper plates. I’d use the napkins to line the basket to make it more Christmas looking.

  8. Any tries on using applesauce, banana, or prune puree in the cookies to replace part of the fat?

    My ancient copy of Joan Ranson Shortney’s How to Live On Nothing stated that soy flour can be used as an egg replacer.

  9. I’m loving the series, too.

    But if you are adding in “odd” ingredients, please warn folks.

    Many folks think Splenda is natural “because it is made from sugar.” Nothing is further from the truth. The last time i had Splenda (accidentally at a pot luck) it put me in the ER.

    There is a lot of evidence that “low fat” diets/foods are not healthy, soy has very mixed results in the health arena, and canola oil is highly processed and unnatural. Lots of people have peanut or nut allergies. So many people are gluten intolerant.

    Not to complain, but just to encourage folks to think thru choices. Holidays are a wonderful time and homemade gifts are so thoughtful. But you might want to put an ingredient label on some things so folks know what they are getting.

  10. @Michelle (#5): I love making homemade sugar scrub. If you don’t have rose petals and don’t want to go the essential oil route, you can also use a combination of olive oil (or any kind of vegetable oil), brown sugar, and vanilla. It smells delicious! The only down side was that each time I used it, I had such a craving for homemade chocolate chip cookies… :)

  11. As someone who has read several vegan* cookbooks/baking books, I’m surprised just subbing tofu works.

    I’m also surprised it works with margarine, too.

    *I’m fully aware this finished product is not vegan.

  12. I found some great cellophane bags at the dollar store – 10 in a pack – for $1.00. Printed with holiday designs. They worked great in baskets, filled with cookies, homemade hard candy and trail mix/snack mix. Combined with homemade strawberry jam, and bread, these are my primary gifts this year. Thanks for the great suggetions!We’ve been trying to rein in the Christmas spending successfully for several years now. Most friends agreed to give to charity instead, and we get together for a pot luck dinner and discuss which charity we chose. Our kids love this, and it teaches them about giving back. Some friends still want to exchange gifts, and they receive the gift baskets described above. One year I got a very expensive sweater from a friend, who got a gift basket in return, and was furious! I reminded her that we agreed not to exchange expensive gifts and she said “I didn’t know you really meant it.” Needless to say, next year we didn’t exchange at all. :-)

  13. This recipe also happens to be gluten free. Oats are not considered to contain gluten but they do bother me. I am a Celiac. However most celiacs would be able to eat these.

  14. @Lisa (#14): I do, and it’s super easy. 2 parts sugar to 1 part oil, a few drops of your desired scent. And the best part is that you can alter the recipe as you like.

    1 c brown sugar + 1/2 c olive oil + vanilla is great for the fall.

    1 c granulated sugar + 1/2 c vegetable oil + lavender is great for spring.

    1 c granulated sugar + 1/2 c vegetable oil + a few drops of mint (either essential oil or extract) + a few drops of red food coloring would be a nice candy cane themed scrub. There is a lot of room for creativity.

  15. Well last Christmas I decided to bake christmas cookies as my gifts. I found large tins and ended up exhausting myself with assembly line baking. Each tin contained about six to eight dozen cookies of 8 differenat varities. It was too much. And frankly was worn out from the effort and I am not sure my weight conscious friends enjoyed being handed a 2 kilo container of sugar and butter laoded treats!

    Ok so this year, I found out that I got $300 in free coupons as a give back from my credit cards for the Home center, a cookware store. So I got for free 20 clear plastic containers with colorful tops. They hold about 18 cookies…So I was able within two days to bake 5 differant varieties that filled all the canisters. I added a few hershey kisses and candy canes and they look very festive. Reducing the nbr, aside from being practical from the production point of view, also makes it a more welcome gift to the weight watcher.

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